US Open 2014 Scores: Biggest Surprises from Day 2
Martin Kaymer piled on his competition by shooting his second 65 in two days at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, breaking the existing record with a two-day total of 130.
Meanwhile, a smattering of players tried desperately to close the gap created by Kaymer on the scruffy North Carolina course.
For the second consecutive day, Kaymer took the course apart, extending his lead to 10 under, six strokes better than the next player.
Kaymer’s massive lead may have been the biggest surprise of the day.
But there were plenty of others, including a recent Masters champ who couldn’t make the cut, a professional scrambler who wouldn’t let the tough Pinehurst course get the best of him and a valiant lefty whose quest for Open glory may have ended.
As the 2014 U.S. Open prepares for the weekend, here are some of the biggest surprises from Day 2.
Pinehurst marks Brooks Koepka’s second start in a U.S. Open (2012), and the 24-year-old Floridian is taking full advantage of it. As a four-time Challenge Tour winner and former All-American at Florida State, he may have mostly minor league experience, but he is playing like a seasoned pro.
At one point on the first day, he actually held the lead.
With only seven bogeys over two days, his defensive approach to the course has proven successful.
"I left it in the right spots. I haven't gotten into too much trouble and when I have, I don't want to say trying to make bogey, but you just try to take double out of play," said Koepka, per Nick Masuda of Golfweek.com. "Double will kill you. You've got no chance. You give up two on a hole, that's big. Because you're not making many birdies out here.”
Koepka has also putted very well, needing only 27 putts on the second day to shoot 68 and get to two under.
He has extra incentive to play well this week: If he places 17th or better, he will gain his PGA Tour card.
A Foolish and Costly Error
It isn’t often that a pro golfer hits the wrong ball, especially in a major tournament with crowds and officials looking on, not to mention his caddy.
But that is what Hunter Mahan did, and it was a costly mistake that may have left him out of the weekend.
While in the 18th fairway, Mahan hit Jamie Donaldson’s ball. Donaldson then hit Mahan’s ball.
When they discovered the error while on the green, both players returned to their original spots to hit from the fairway. Each incurred a two-stroke penalty.
Mahan ended up at six over par for the day. Donaldson finished at 11 over.
Kevin Na and Brendon Todd
Two relatively unheralded players surged forward on the second day.
Brendon Todd shot a bogey-free round to leapfrog the field and sit alone in second place at four under par. Like Kaymer, he figured out a way to minimize his mistakes while posting a 67 on the second day.
Todd has been on a run of late, logging three consecutive top-10 finishes, including a win at the recent Byron Nelson Championship.
Kevin Na, who scored under par for the second day, shot an up-and-down round of 69 that included four birdies and three bogeys.
Na is coming off a wonderful performance at the Memorial Tournament. On the final day of that event, he flew through the field by shooting 64, ultimately losing in a playoff to Hideki Matsuyama.
Currently ranked second in scrambling on the tour, he has used his imagination and guile in order to score well at Pinehurst.
Bubba Watson might consider sitting out next year’s U.S. Open.
He followed a dismal first day score of 76 with a 70 that left him out of the weekend. He also became the first Masters champion since Jose Maria Olazabal to fail to reach the weekend at an Open, which, by the way, is something he had done in 2012.
Maybe it’s Watson’s aggressive, go-for-it style that doesn’t comply with the rigid nature of an Open course.
Noting that the course “didn’t fit my eye,” he admitted that the odd-shaped turtle-backed greens also gave him trouble.
“For me personally, my imagination, I can't see all the green surface, so it's hard for me to decide if I want to draw it in there or cut it in there because you're looking at a small target that's maybe only 10, 15 feet wide," Watson said, per Bret Strelow of The Fayetteville Observer. "It's hard to get my mind to see landing in that small target."
On the second day, Phil Mickelson’s putting let him down in his quest to finally win a U.S. Open tournament.
With Kaymer taking a big lead at 10 under par, Mickelson could have made a move on Friday to at least close the gap. Instead, he had trouble making even the shortest of putts.
Mickelson began the tournament by switching to a claw grip while putting. He then switched back to his conventional grip on Day 2, which actually looked like it helped him when he birdied two of the first three holes.
But he was unable to hold things together. He proceeded to make five bogeys, leading to a three-over 73, which left him 13 strokes behind the leader.
It really doesn’t matter that Kaymer was once No. 1 in the world or that he won The Players Championship, considered the fifth major by many, just a few weeks ago.
No one could have predicted that he would shoot back-to-back 65s, take a commanding lead at the Open and break records while doing so.
Kaymer set an Open record by shooting 130 over 36 holes, and his pair of 65s was also a first-time occurrence at the Open.
In two days of golf, he has only one bogey. As ESPN.com's Farrell Evans wrote, "Kaymer appeared to be playing on a course on Friday morning that was very easy and un-U.S. Open-like."
You could say that the 29-year-old German, who held the No. 1 position in the world in 2011, is channeling that notorious front-runner Tiger Woods who is absent from Pinehurst while he rehabs his ailing back.
If that is the case, we could be in for a truly remarkable weekend of individual golf.
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